Jimmy Carter doubtless has many regrets about his one-term presidency even though his record as a private citizen since then has polished his legacy. His performance was not as bad as many critics contend and it was nowhere near as good as his closest associates believe.
But one thing the former Georgia governor tried to accomplish was to establish an atmosphere of nonpartisanship, with a goal of people in public office exercising statesmanship rather than political division. Former presidents such as Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were able to get people in Congress to “reach across the aisle” to the benefit of the country. Carter touched recently on the need for such productivity to be restored.
One of the masters of getting people of varying political beliefs to work together was U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, the accomplished Kansas Republican. He, too, must be frustrated by the current situation.
Carter calls the divide between Republicans and Democrats in Washington “unprecedented.” He is now calling for President Obama to meet with leaders to make sure the gap does not widen further. Carter mentioned “Republican leaders,” but Democrats share just as much blame for the constant stalemates in Congress.
Sen. Dole was far ahead of Carter on this issue while practicing what he preached about bipartisanship in government. He said a number of times that too few U.S. presidents have used the clout of their office to deal head-on with problems such as the current deadlock.
Dole said whoever is president should, on important occasions, call in the leaders of both parties, elected and appointed, and “lay down the law” about getting things done, as Lyndon Johnson often did. Obama should not be bashful about holding members of his own party as well as Republicans accountable for breaking the partisan logjams.
The knee-jerk reactions of members of Congress are ludicrous and disgusting. A member of one party has hardly uttered his comments before somebody on the other side of the aisle is up and running at the mouth about why that is wrong. How often do we hear constructive suggestions about what to do about a given issue?
There are countless matters that require bipartisanship, right now. If the leaders of the Democrats and the GOP don’t have the courage to break the costly mold of stubbornness, the president should take off his kid gloves and crack down. However, based on his actions, statements and failure to follow through on his campaign pledges of transparency and bipartisanship, one has to wonder whether Obama is not contributing to the current dangerous situation.
Continued travel down the partisan road we now are traveling can lead to even more of a damaging breakdown of our government.